23 November 2007
Great Performers: Some top perennials in my garden
We all have plants that we find completely irresistable. Some may be old favourites, others challenging to grow, others new-fangled hybrids that seduce with their hype and their hypnotic beauty. Here are a few of mine, starting with the elusive and cantankerous blue poppy, Meconopsis betonicifolia or M. grandis. Where other plants give me the crazies, this actually does quite well for me. Why? Well, we're not the Himalayas here, but it doesn't get too hot here, the soil is moist, humus rich and the spots where I have these planted are cool and shady. The secret to growing these is to let the plants develop multiple crowns so that they're more vigourous and more apt to last for a few years. I haven't had a chance to get seedlings since the great duck debacle of several years ago, but hopefully next year when the plants flower, we'll get some seedset and seedling development.
Just as marvelous as the blue poppy is this hybrid, M. b. 'Hensol Violet'. Last year it flowered amidst the blue corydalis, and while the flowers weren't huge, they were this blissful colour with a sea of blue around them. Delicious!
Here's something a little different: the lovely yellow-flowered Jacob's ladder (Polemonium pauciflorum). The flowers are more trumpet shaped than many of the standard blue or white flowered varieties, and the plant is compact and very floriferous.
A few years ago, a local nursery carried this relative of Anchusa, borage, pulmonaria and mertensia; it's Lindelofia, and I've never seen it anywhere else but that one place. I have a marvelous clump in the back garden which I've shared with a few other gardeners who adore blue flowers. It's not fragrant, but it flowers for a long time, and that blue colour makes my heart glad.
Last year a friend gave me a plant of Arctic Snow Mullein, and it produced marvelous, huge leaves covered in pure white down. This year, it put up spikes of these yolk-yellow flowers, and made the bees happy for weeks on end. I hope that it seeds, because it's probably biennial; I'd like to have this in the garden every year.
It's not a yellow peony, but Primavera pleases me with its pure white flowers and yellow stamens, deep green foliage, and wonderful fragrance. I still hope to get "Molly the Witch" peony one day, (Paeonia mlokosewitschii) but since the only person I know growing it in my province is an insufferable bore, I'll have to grow it from seed myself...some day!
Veronicas are dandy plants, and somewhat underused in some gardens. Last year I saw 'Aztec Gold' well-grown in a display garden at a nursery, and that convinced me that I needed to have it--and I'm glad that it convinced me, because it's a beautiful thing, with that golden foliage and periwinkle blue flowers.
Yeah, I know. Every opportunity to show this plant, I do. But after a bit of a rocky start getting it going (due to mediocre stock arriving at my local nursery, who then got better plants from another supplier) it has surpassed my expectations. I hope that it overwinters as well as other echinaceas do, and multiplies...I'd love to have drifts of it, and every other colour of coneflower, making the butterflies wildly happy.
Wallflowers are marvelous; fragrant, floriferous, and come in a host of interesting colours and colour blends. This beauty is probably 'Constant Cheer', although it might also be 'Stars and Stripes' from Thompson and Morgan; I'm not sure because it was an unlabeled beauty at a small greenhouse. The only problem with wallflowers (Erysimum) is that they are biennial; this may be why they're hard to find locally because not everyone is that patient with growing them. Some DO flower in their first year if seeded early enough indoors under lights or in a greenhouse. I hunt high and low for them every year. (Yes, I'm going to grow some in the nursery bed I'm going to develop next year. Really.)
Okay...there are a few of my favourites? Wanna play the game too? How about posting some of YOUR favourites on YOUR blog? It's a good way to get through the rest of November....come back here and post a comment to let me know when you've done your post, as I'd love to see what others are finding top performers (and what their reasons are.)